Ancient Tech – Graphics Tablets, the Wacom Intuos series 1

This is a follow up from a post made a few months ago, when I received one of my favorite gifts ever.  An awesome PC which came with a wonderful new peripheral, a version 1 Wacom Intuos.  Now I had played around a few times with the idea of getting myself a graphics tablet, but when it came down to it I simply couldn’t afford one.  Even secondhand they do tend to be rather crazily expensive.  But here was one of my own and it didn’t cost me a penny.  So I think we should start with a quick review of what a graphics tablet is, and why they can be useful.

A graphics tablet is basically a surface that matches your PC monitor 1 to 1.  By which I mean if you bring the tablet pen into contact with a given spot on the tablet the arrow on the screen goes there.  That’s it in a nutshell.  I usually think of it as just a different sort of computer mouse, because it really is just another way to move your cursor around.

Now as for what it’s good for.  Well you won’t be playing any games with one that’s for sure, unless it’s a really simple mouse controlled flash game.  And it’s far too awkward to use while word processing. I do find mine a wonderful aid to comfortable internet surfing, no awkwardly cocked wrist for me. But what it excels at is in the name, graphics tablet.  That’s right load up your favorite graphics editor, plug in your tablet and you have a really potent combination.

You see what a graphics tablet gives you in combination with a graphics program is something a mouse simply can’t give, flexibility.  Imagine being able to draw on your computer screen in precisely the same way you would with a pencil and paper.  You can do that.  Or paint with watercolors, you can do that too.  Crop and edit photos, with a tablet it becomes an easier, more intuitive task.

Recently I’ve found myself messing around with video editing software, and again the tablet proves itself to be the best tool for the job.  No repetitive mouse movements.  Just drop the tip of the pen onto the frame you want to move, click the side button and drop the frame where you want it.  But because it feels almost precisely the same as working with a normal pen and a stiff A3 pad on your lap it feels far more natural.

I’m not really going to review a piece of equipment that’s been obsolete for at least a decade.  But I am going to say this, if you come across a working one in a car boot sale, or a relative offers you one, take it.  They’re simple to use, once you get past what I found was a very shallow learning curve, they’re pleasant and have a very natural feel to their use.  But most of all a good graphics tablet makes a wonderful alternative to a mouse, at least for those computer based chores that don’t require a keyboard.

So thanks again Claire.  Best present ever!

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